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Getting Down

Dreamed l995/12/24, painted 1995, acrylic, 41.5 x 48, by Jenny Badger Sultan

'Getting Down', a dreampainting by Jenny Badger Sultan: naked people descend a rock crag ringed in fire. Click to enlarge.


My husband Hank and I are climbing down fingers of rock or pinnacles. The climbing is difficult: they are very slender and seem to branch out as we descend, so you must choose paths. I think I have done this before but am having more trouble this time. Can't see footholds, and I just can't seem to find a way down. I wait to see how Hank goes, and follow his lead.

A strange man is climbing down too. He points out a few piles of human excrement on the rocks and says "People should have found a better way to dispose of their shit."


There is a fire out here that is burning, raging. It is a danger. Back at a house, someone gives me a staff of white wood and tells me "If you plunge it in the fire, it will put the fire out." So I return to the fire and thrust the staff in. It's strange--a dense fire of wood and/or stone--very dense. When I thrust the rod in, a little piece is left in my hand, four or five inches long. I figure it may not work if it doesn't all go in, so I force this last piece into the flame. I don't see the fire stopping, but I know it will. Hank and I are both working toward the same end, but we are apart: I have quelled this fire on my own.


A gathering in a house. People are describing the miraculous journey of Hank's painting "Mandala of the House of Sultan"--how in a few years it travelled from this person to that, from this place to that. It was seen as a very important, seminal painting with special properties.

This is a celebration of it. Someone comments, "And it only cost a quarter of a ____" (some amount I'm not sure of). Tiny needlepoint books are handed out, documenting the journey of the painting. There is a sense that the museum has done wrong in ignoring important works like this.


Now I'm on a beach with a small group of people. I notice that in the back of my dream book (not one I recognized when I woke) I have a pack of black construction paper. I say gaily, "Now I can cut out silhouette portraits of each of you." I am only kidding.

I wake to the sound of heavy rain around 5 A.M.


This rocky landscape with pinnacles is a very familiar psychic place for me. Over the years it has appeared in both dreams and visions, for example, in The Coming Dark. The theme of being in a high place and having to find a way down is also familiar and recurrent. It shows me Im too high, need to get grounded. Quelling the raging fire feels like learning to deal with anger and other hot feelings.

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